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  • The world of human resources and employment is forever changing. Many companies used to have a standard long-term assignment policy for expatriates, a short-term assignment policy and even a permanent transfer policy. Today, the employment industry is seeing a change in these very practices and policies.
    Current assignment policies, all of a sudden, are taking on alternative forms. Human resource expertsexplain that over the last decade companies have introduced a commuter policy, a lump sum policy and even a developmental assignment policy.
    HR professionals and global mobility managers explain that the reasoning behind these somewhat recent changes can be attributed to the constant spotlight on costs. These assignments can cost a company up to three times a base salary figure. This number can be even higher if an assignee has a partner, or a dependent. Organisations want to ensure that the assignees aren’t making less than they would if they stayed in their original locations but they also want to make sure they don’t make any significant financial gains.
    Additionally, assignee administration is extremely time-consuming and cumbersome. The amount of paperwork that comes with an expatriate staff member is far more than that of an average employee. This amount of paperwork can cause an increased number of human resources administration errors and could spur feelings of disparity among assignees.
    Global mobility functions are also working towards a transparent international assignment policy. By creating a transparent policy, global mobility managers are hoping to cut the number of individual assignment negotiations and clearly set expectations from the very beginning.
    There has also been a shift amongst a new generation of assignees that look at their careers as “borderless”. These workers view an international assignment as merely part of their career plan. This is an opportunity where they can develop new skills and further their careers. Due to this new way of thinking, some mobility managers started offering a “core-flex” policy, which provides a basic set of fixed elements, as well as some optional benefits.
    The core-flex policy helps a company tie in an assignee’s personal requirements with their own budget restraints.
    At the end of the day, organisations are quickly learning to become more creative in balancing cost control while encouraging international experience.

  • The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) is suggesting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rethink its new ATC hiring protocol, after dismal results in the first attempt.
    Last February it was reported that the agency changed its policies, thinking that the revisions would attract a more diverse pool of prospective controllers. Unfortunately, the ATC’s first attempt only netted a fraction of the controller trainee candidates predicted. Over 28,000 people applied, but a mere 2,200 applicants actually passed a “biographical questionnaire” that advanced the candidates to the next step.
    The FAA had high hopes that 30 percent of the applicants would pass the questionnaire phase. Among applicants that failed the questionnaire included graduates of collegiate ATC programs and former military controllers who should have been shoe-ins.   Due to their poor questionnaire results, these applicants were placed in the same pool as the thousands of candidates that had zero relevant experience. After these statistics were released, the NATCA felt deeply concerned about the program.
    “The FAA must address this flawed biographical evaluation and correct the unintended consequence of rejecting what we believe are hundreds if not thousands of qualified candidates,” said the NATCA.
    This new hiring policy also prompted complaints from multiple educational facilities that offer ATC courses under the FAA-approved collegiate training initiative.
    Implementation of the questionnaire originated with a study completed by the FAA and San Diego State University in 2012. The study said that the questionnaire had validity as a predictor of air traffic control specialist performance ratings. The questionnaire is supposed to ask applicants to recall and report their typical and specific behaviors (or experiences) in certain situations.
    The NATCA is urging the FAA to quickly revisit the process because a controller shortage is on the horizon.

  • Retiring comfortably equals having a lot of money in the bank. A new HR study by Towers Watson reveals that about two out of three workers would be willing to give up some pay for guaranteed retirement benefits. At the peak of the recession, circa 2009, this number was about 20% lower.
    The Towers Watson survey polled over 5,000 full-time employees. Approximately 2/3 of the population said they were satisfied with their company’s sponsored retirement plans, which is a huge improvement from 2009. With this said, the number of employees who are satisfied with their health care benefits have declined greatly. This downward trend can be attributed, according to HR experts, to ageing workers whose health may be deteriorating. Overall costs of living have also increased greatly, while these benefit programs have basically remained the same.
    While some workers would be willing to sacrifice some of their salary to receive better retirement services, these people weren’t willing to do the same in exchange for better health services. Reasoning for this is possibly because retirement security became ever more important during the recession when many employees decided to prematurely tap into their 401-k funds as a means for survival.
    One human resource professional also said that this thought pattern could be contributed to recent cutbacks in DB plans.

  • Last February, the UK Civil Aviation Authority announced a series of plans aimed at improving the safety of offshore helicopter operations. Now, the CAA has announced changes to two of its requirements that will be part of this series.
    The initial announcement included news of seating restrictions on offshore flights from June 1, where passengers will be required to sit next to a push-out window in the event of an emergency escape. Since the series’ announcement, the CAA has been working tirelessly to avoid any type of implementation roadblocks. However, the new Offshore Helicopter Safety Action Group’s regulator recently said that new information has led to a delay in the implementation of the seating restriction.
    Reasoning for the delay includes evidence introduced by the oil and gas industry, which said reducing helicopter capacity via seating restriction would have an adverse impact on safety maintenance work. There is also the recent certification of the redesigned gear shaft for the EC225, which will take some helicopters completely out of service while it’s being added.
    Another reason a delay in series implementation will take place is because of the improved Emergency Breathing system (EBS).  The first EBS units that will help remove the need for the seating restriction won’t be available before mid-July. The system is slated to deliver advanced improvements in safety for anyone travelling offshore.
    One CAA aviation expert explained that they are obliged to take the delay because the safety of those who work offshore is an absolute priority and the whole reason this
    programme was set up.
    The CAA vowed to have public updates on the
    programme’s development but many aviation experts are expecting a kick off well into 2015.

  • When people start new careers many of these new employees are under a 30 to 90 day probation period, where the employer can choose to terminate the worker without reason. Spring Personnel conducted a survey comprised of managers and employees and revealed that nearly 1/5 of new recruits do not pass their probation period.
    Overall poor performance was cited as the number one reason employees were let go. A close second, coming in at 50%, was absence and finally, poor punctuality. The most surprising reason some new workers were let go prior to the end of their probation period was “personality clashes”. Twelve percent of respondents pointed to an argument as a cause to refuse an ongoing contract.
    Businesses are not prone to extending a probation period for a worker, even though this can be an option. Most employees, according to the survey, feel extremely insecure during their probation period. Some went as far as saying they put more effort in during the first few months than when they were assured their role was permanent.
    In some cases, landing the job role might be the easy part while maintaining the position can be harder.
    The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and questioned 403 UK workers responsible for employees going through probationary periods at work. It also included 1,498 UK adults who have held permanent roles in the last year.

  • Standard Life is claiming that in response to the budget changes to pensions, a clearer and simpler approach to the death benefit tax charge is needed.
    The Government acknowledged in its consultation paper that the 55% tax charge could be too high in a majority of cases. This new death benefit tax charge only applies in two circumstances where a lump sum is paid out (most commonly with a SIPP).
    Situation number one occurs when a person dies age 75 or older, applying to the entire fund regardless of whether the customer had taken any withdrawals from their pensions or not.
    Situation number two occurs if a person dies before the age of 75 and had started to take withdrawals. The rule applies to the part of the pension that has been “touched” also referred to as “the crystallised fund”.
    Human resource expert and Standard Life head of customer affairs, Julie Hutchison, said that she believes a simpler and fairer way of doing things is to align the death benefit tax charge for crystallised funds to the IHT regime. This particular solution makes sense for a few different reasons. It is fairer because the tax charge gets reduced to either 40% or 0% in line with IHT. Whether or not tax is due depends on the identity of the recipient and wealth of the person. Any money that would get passed to a spouse, civil partner or charity would be exempt from tax.
    Expertsexpress that a charge of 55% risks driving the wrong customer outcome and acts as more of a penalty for people that choose to “do the right thing”. An IHT alignment would mean removing this stigma from those that choose to create a sensible income from their pension. Additionally, the age of 75 shouldn’t be used as a trigger point for tax. This would be removed in the proposed solution for the new regime.

  • In order to help general aviation pilots prepare for weather challenges that may occur in the 2014 flying season, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and general aviation groups are joining forces to launch an eight-month national safety campaign.
    “Got Weather? #GotWx,” officially kicked off on May 4 in Anchorage at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering. The campaign is aimed at helping pilots prepare for weather related issues by making sure they are as well-trained and knowledgeable as possible. The campaign runs through December and will feature a new weather topic each month.
    Weather is the most lethal cause of all major general aviation accidents.
    The United States has a very active general aviation community with approximately 188,000 pilots. It is the busiest and most complex airspace in the world. One of the easiest ways for pilots to help reduce the amount of fatal weather related aviation accidents is by fine tuning their pre-flight decision making processes. The “Got Weather?” campaign takes advantage of the numerous resources available to general aviation pilots.
    Pilots have access to a website that has everything from quick weather facts and articles, to links for seminars, quizzes and proficiency training programs. The purpose of these online resources is so pilots have access to these anytime, anywhere. Aviation experts further explain that understanding weather and how it affects a planned flight route is essential.
    The National Transportation Safety Board’s Most Wanted Lists identifies the Got Weather? outreach efforts as a sign that the FAA and aviation community has a commitment to improving GA safety.
    Partners of the Got Weather? Program included the following: Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), American Electronics Association (AEA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam), GA Joint Steering Committee, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), Soaring Society of America (SSA), Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), University Aviation Association (UAA), U.S. Parachute Association (USPA).

  • Edward Lane was employed as the probationary director of Central Alabama Community College’s program for at- risk youth. The program was titled, “Community Intensive Training for Youth Program,” or CITY.
    Lane found that the then-state representative, Suzanne Schmitz, was on CITY’s payroll yet not reporting for work and had not contributed any tangible work for the program. When Lane voiced his concerns about this, he was warned that terminating her would have potential negative repercussions for Lane and the community college as a whole. Lane ignored the warning from the community college president and fired Schmitz after she refused to report to work.
    Schmitz filed a lawsuit looking to get her job back and allegedly told another CITY employee that she vowed to “get Lane back” for terminating her.
    Not long after, the FBI started an investigation and contacted Lane for information regarding Schmitz. Schmitz was prosecuted by the US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama for fraudulently arranging and concealing a no-show job for herself with CITY.
    Lane was present before a federal grand jury where he testified and at the rest of Schmitz’s trials for fraud involving a program receiving federal funds. She was convicted on all counts but one.
    After Schmitz’s first trial, Lane was actually let go from his job as part of a layoff that involved 29 employees. All but two of the 29 laid-off employees had their terminations rescinded when Steve Franks, the community college president, realized that most of them weren’t probationary employees. Lane ended up suing Franks for damages.
    The district court ruled that Lane’s testimony was made as part of his official duties as CITY’s director, and not as a regular citizen, citing that this would mean his First Amendment protections didn’t apply. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, but also added a tiny footnote.
    The Court said that because there is a split of authority over whether a subpoenaed testimony is speech as a citizen or of public concern, Franks would have qualified immunity from any damages lawsuit.
    Ultimately, Lane should have been protected under the First Amendment because he was speaking as a citizen on matters of public concern.   At the time, however, this First Amendment entitlement wasn’t exactly crystal clear.
    If employees aren’t protected under a First Amendment and they are subpoenaed for any reason, what kind of message is that sending to workers who don’t have a choice but to testify?
    Franks attorney argued that it is the character of the speech that has to be looked at to determine if the speaker should be protected under the First Amendment.
    HR experts explain that it needs to be clear whether the First Amendment only applies to the expression of view and not to the conveyance of facts.
    The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by June.

  • A case largely built on emails among top executives, including Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, seems to have reached a settlement.
    Four major technology companies, including Apple and Google, have agreed to settle a large antitrust lawsuit over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley. The suit began after technology workers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe Systems back in 2011. Workers alleged that the companies conspired not to poach each other’s employees in order to avert any potential salary wars. The trial was set to begin at the end of this month on behalf of approximately 60,000 employees.
    While the companies did admit that there were no-hire agreements, they disputed the allegation that there was some sort of conspiracy to drive down wages. The case was based on a series of emails about very explicit incidents. For example, after an instance where a Google recruiter solicited an Apple employee, Schmidt emailed Jobs and said that the recruiter would be fired. An email was then forwarded to a top Apple human resources executive with a smiley face emoticon.
    Terms of the deal made between the technology juggernauts and the 60,000 employees have not been disclosed at this time.

  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently released its 50th Flight Safety Report, which covers the airline industry’s massive efforts to diminish the amount of accidents.
    The document suggests that flying now is safer than ever. A “zero-accident” goal is quite obviously what is being aimed for but aviation experts around the world admit that this is probably completely impossible to attain. Last year, IATA member airlines suffered a small number of fatal accidents with only 210 passengers actually losing their lives due to an accident or incident.
    While the results of this safety report are optimistic, the release comes simultaneously with the high profile case of Malaysia Airlines’ Flight 370. This disappearance has pinpointed a huge safety paradox. While great strides are being made, there are huge “disturbing weaknesses”.
    The IATA also acknowledges that even though flying may be safer than ever, terrorism is still a real and very serious threat to the vitality of the aviation industry. Assuming that terrorism didn’t play a role in Flight 370, events did show weak security at the Kuala Lumpur airport. This could be indicative of what may be going on at major hubs around the world.
    Much learning can also be gained from the IATA reports. They show that the main causes for accidents remain unchanged over the course of the years; Loss of control in flight, controlled flight into terrain and runway/taxiway incursions lead the list. The association says that the aviation industry needs to rely more on improved technology.
    While pilots and other aviation experts agree with this aforementioned statement, it is also agreed that technology can’t replace the power of knowledge.

  • Airbus have officially announced that a landmark test flight was successful. A prototype electric aircraft being called the E-Fan is a composite, tandem two-seater with a pair of ducted fans on the tail that are driven by electric motors. Two lithium polymer batteries are housed in the wings of the aircraft where fuel would typically be stored.
    Airbus has not kept quiet about their intent to build an electric-powered airliner for a more regional market and it seems they are well on their way to doing just that. The company declared that it wants to develop an airliner with 70-90 seats fitted for regional use and feels that a realistic timeline is 15-20 years.
    The electric aircraft would be capable of, at the very least, taking off and landing under electric power and could possibly use some sort of hybrid drive for sustainable flying.
    The two electric-driven fans within the E-Fan have a combined total power output of 60 kilowatts. Its current short endurance makes it ultimately impractical for anything other than a test flight. Now that the test is over and more importantly successful, Airbus is ready to increase this efficiency rate to an hour or more.
    Currently, two other aircraft companies have experimental hybrid aircrafts in the works – Pipistrel and Flight Design.

    VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfBfZJBQH_I


  • The job of an unpaid intern has just been made a little more bearable for the struggling student and…well, everyone. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio just signed a bill that protects unpaid interns from discrimination and harassment by employers covered under the city’s human rights law.
    HR experts explain that time and time again interns tell horror stories about how they were abused and taken advantage of at their internships, as employers often see interns as free labor.
    The new legislation was passed unanimously by the City Council last month in response to a ruling where an unpaid intern wasn’t protected from unlawful harassment because she was not an employee. This ruling was made despite the fact that the law prohibits an employer from discriminating against any “person”.
    Mayor DeBlasio said that the bill is being passed to help clarify human rights for anyone who may be interpreting the law too narrowly, especially in respect to interns. At the end of the day, an intern is just as protected as a full-time employee.
    The amended law states that an intern is to be considered a “person” under the sections of law that prohibit any type of discriminatory practices. An intern is described in the amendment as a person who is performing work for the purpose of training.
    This new law is effective starting on June 15, 2014.


  • Last year, Boeing estimated that China’s fast expanding air transport industry would be in dire need of some 77,400 pilots and almost 100,000 mechanics by the year 2032. These numbers represent approximately 40% of the overall requirement across the Asia Pacific region over the same exact period of time. These statistics are causing aviation experts across the world to ask, “How can a country without an indigenous general aviation community cultivate this many pilots in such a short span of time?”
    Enter the United States, a country trying to help China fill this gap. TransPac Aviation Academy in Phoenix, Arizona is at the forefront of this mission currently training China’s next gen flight crews. This past March, 29 Chinese students graduated from the academy. Currently, the school is training about 20% of the Chinese pilot population. These TransPac pilots leave Phoenix with an FAA commercial pilot license with the turbine engine add-on rating required by the Chinese authorities. After this, they undergo a license conversion process back in China.
    This particular academy has worked tirelessly on providing a schooling atmosphere where students can adapt to the life of an international airline pilot career. All of the school’s recruits undergo an initial aptitude and English language test in China since the curriculum submerges the students in English. Successful candidates then go through a six-week program of ground school and English instruction prior to making the trip to China.
    While in Phoenix, the students learn to fly in the Piper Archer III, Piper Seminole and Beechcraft King Air C90 aircraft while receiving instruction in various training devices.
    In addition to Chinese students, TransPac is training pilots for carriers from other areas of Asia, like Vietnam.